Maria Mycio travelled to Chernobyl to research and write a book entitled Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl, in which she notes that research designed to cast doubt on the idea of the exclusion zone as a wildlife sanctuary in fact does little more than cherry-pick bad news from the worst areas.
While conceding that there were negative consequences, of course, she writes: “Chernobyl’s abundant and surprisingly normal-looking wildlife has shaken up how biologists think about the environmental effects of radioactivity. The idea that the world’s biggest radioactive wasteland could become Europe’s largest wildlife sanctuary is completely counterintuitive for anyone raised on nuclear dystopias.”
This story of environmental resilience runs counter to the common wisdom about radioactivity. Sure, it can cause alarming damage, especially with high levels or prolonged exposure. However, it does occur naturally, and is in fact essential for evolution to work. More importantly, the evidence – limited though it is because of the rarity of nuclear accidents – suggests that nature is capable of recovering to a remarkable degree even from extreme events.
Full story here